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Evolution of the Online Conversation



Scoble’s 2007 Version

In 2007, Robert Scoble published the “Social Media Starfish” as pictured below (created by Scoble and Darren Barefoot). The premise is that all forms of social media are connected and I couldn’t agree more. Imagine you use Twitter to microblog and broadcast yourself, you use Flickr to post your photography that you share with your online friends and you are an avid blogger. They all are interconnected- some of your blog audience is your Twitter audience and some of your Twitter audience is your Flickr audience and so on and so forth.

Solis’ 2008 Version

While Scoble’s graph was sufficient for the time, social media has grown exponentially not only in options for applications but in actual users, rendering the “Social Media Starfish” lacking. This year, Brian Solis published “The Conversation Prism” that shows how social media has evolved (co-created with JESS3). What’s most intriguing to me is that Solis has captured the science of the social media movement of these applications overlapping, not just connecting.

click here for the enlarged version

Solis notes “conversations are taking place with or without you and this map will help you visualize the potential extent and pervasiveness of the online conversations that can impact and influence your business and brand.”

The takeaway of Solis’ Conversation Prism is that “in the social economy, relationships are the new currency.” We’ve been saying this for a while but Solis sums it up so concisely and eloquently. Kudos to Brian Solis for leading the evolution.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Chris de Jong

    August 13, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Fantastic post Lani! It is amazing to see the evolution of social media from one year to the next. Especially the emphasis that is put on Twitter – I guess it really is the next killer app!

    My RE take away from this would be that in order to capitalize on social media, real-estate professionals should try to position themselves at the center of this conversation, so they can take advantage of the discussions and turn them into business.

  2. Todd

    August 13, 2008 at 10:06 am

    “…Imagine you use Twitter to microblog and broadcast yourself, you use Flickr to post your photography that you share with your online friends and you are an avid blogger. They all are interconnected- some of your blog audience is your Twitter audience and some of your Twitter audience is your Flickr audience and so on and so forth.”

    FYI – The above is not only a good way to build up relationship currency, but it just so happens to be the the rumored way Google’s bots and crawlers assign ranking order displayed in a keyword search. “Relationship currency” and SEO are two sides of the same coin. 😉

  3. Joseph Bridges

    August 13, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    These tools, some new and some older, allow everyone to connect and build a better network. I don’t believe that “in the social economy, relationships are the new currency”. Relationships have always been currency and have always been valuable. These tools just allow everyone to have a greater reach and have more relationships. The core that relationships which lead to referrals and other opportunities hasn’t changed just the medium in which we connect with them.

  4. James Bridges

    August 13, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    I think this helps show a great picture of social networking. I will say though looking at it I get an additional interpretation.
    Seeing as “The Conversion” is at the center it demonstrates that the value you aim to achieve is a combination of different forms of networking meeting to the point of value. Since each one overlaps, not intersects, it shows that participating in different networks will allow you to reach your conversion point (in real estate a referral or preferrably a sale 🙂 ).

  5. Sherry Baker

    August 13, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    What’s really amazing to me is that there are agents walking around who don’t have a CLUE about any of this… and when it’s presented to them, they just don’t care about it.

  6. Eric Blackwell

    August 13, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I think the key to unlocking the potential of what you have brilliantly pointed out, Lani…is prioritizing which conversation places will yield the best conversations that will yield the best relationships between you and your customer.



  7. Vicki Moore

    August 13, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    And it’s a pretty flower too. Seriously seeing the visual enforces what I already knew – there are a ton of them and deciding where to put my time is going to become more and more crucial. Thank goodness many of them are linked and populate updates. All this in just a year.

    Sherry – If I wasn’t here I wouldn’t either. It invaluable to have it deciphered, thought out and presented by an expert in social media.

  8. Ruthmarie Hicks

    August 14, 2008 at 3:27 am

    This is totally overwhelming….At some point we have to tear ourselves away from the computer long enough to come out of our caves and be in the “real world.” Balance is key!

  9. Paula Henry

    August 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    The growth is Amazing! Seeing it in this format and now I know why I can’t keep up:( I need a social media assistant – yes, that’s the key – someone just like me.

  10. Matthew Rathbun

    August 16, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Whew… that makes me tired just looking at it. This is why I am glad to be with AG, Twitter, etc… I can find out what’s worth working on and what isn’t….

    Ruthemarie: I’ve got to tell you that I used to feel that way, but social media has made the world smaller and it’s becoming the real world. The folks that I meet through this system, I meet in person and talk to on the phone just as I do my church or my close friends. Matter of fact… I’ve introduced my friends, family and church folks to these systems which have REALLY enhanced all those relationships.

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Social Media

Zillow launches real estate brokerage after eons of swearing they wouldn’t

(MEDIA) We’ve warned of this for years, the industry funded it, and Zillow Homes brokerage has launched, and there are serious questions at hand.



zillow group

Zillow Homes was announced today, a Zillow licensed brokerage that will be fully operational in 2021 in Phoenix, Tucson, and Atlanta.

Whoa, big huge yawn-inducing shocker, y’all.

We’ve been warning for more than a decade that this was the end game, and the company blackballed us for our screams (and other criticisms, despite praise when merited here and there).

Blog posts were penned in fiery effigy calling naysayers like us stupid and paranoid.

Well color me unsurprised that the clarity of the gameplan was clear as day all along over here, and the paid talking heads sent out to astroturf, gaslight, and threaten us are now all quiet.

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Social Media

We watched The Social Dilemma – here are some social media tips that stuck with us

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Here are some takeaways from watching Netflix’s The Social Dilemma that helped me to eliminate some social media burnout.



Neon social media like heart with a 0

Last weekend, I made the risky decision to watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix. I knew it was an important thing to watch, but the risk was that I also knew it would wig me out a bit. As much as I’m someone who is active “online,” the concept of social media overwhelms me almost more than it entertains (or enlightens) me.

The constant sharing of information, the accessibility to information, and the endless barrage of notifications are just a few of the ways social media can cause overwhelm. The documentary went in deeper than this surface-level content and got into the nitty gritty of how people behind the scenes use your data and track your usage.

Former employees of high-profile platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and Pinterest gave their two cents on the dangers of social media from a technological standpoint. Basically, our data isn’t just being tracked to be passed along for newsletters and the like. But rather, humans are seen as products that are manipulated to buy and click all day every day in order to make others money and perpetuate information that has astronomical effects. (I’m not nearly as intelligent as these people, so watch the documentary to get the in-depth look at how all of this operates.)

One of the major elements that stuck with me was the end credits of The Social Dilemma where they asked interviewees about the ways they are working to eliminate social media overwhelm in their own lives. Some of these I’ve implemented myself and can attest to. Here’s a short list of things you can do to keep from burning out online.

  1. Turn off notifications – unless there are things you need to know about immediately (texts, emails, etc.) turn it off. Getting 100 individual notifications within an hour from those who liked your Instagram post will do nothing but burn you (and your battery) out.
  2. Know how to use these technologies to change the conversation and not perpetuate things like “fake news” and clickbait.
  3. Uninstall apps that are wasting your time. If you feel yourself wasting hours per week mindlessly scrolling through Facebook but not actually using it, consider deleting the app and only checking the site from a desktop or Internet browser.
  4. Research and consider using other search tools instead of Google (one interviewee mentioned that Qwant specifically does not collect/store your information the way Google does).
  5. Don’t perpetuate by watching recommended videos on YouTube, those are tailored to try and sway or sell you things. Pick your own content.
  6. Research the many extensions that remove these recommendations and help stop the collection of your data.

At the end of the day, just be mindful of how you’re using social media and what you’re sharing – not just about yourself, but the information you’re passing along from and to others. Do your part to make sure what you are sharing is accurate and useful in this conversation.

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Social Media

WeChat ban blocked by California judge, but for how long?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) WeChat is protected by First Amendment concerns for now, but it’s unclear how long the app will remain as pressure mounts.



WeChat app icon on an iPhone screen

WeChat barely avoided a US ban after a Californian judge stepped in to temporarily block President Trump’s executive order. Judge Laurel Beeler cited the effects of the ban on US-based WeChat users and how it threatened the First Amendment rights of those users.

“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote.

WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging and social media/mobile transaction app with over 1 billion active monthly users. The WeChat Alliance, a group of users who filed the lawsuit in August, pointed out that the ban unfairly targets Chinese-Americans as it’s the primary app used by the demographic to communicate with loved ones, engage in political discussions, and receive news.

The app, along with TikTok, has come under fire as a means for China to collect data on its users. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”

This example is yet another symptom of our ever-globalizing society where we are learning to navigate between connectivity and privacy. The plaintiffs also pointed out alternatives to an outright ban. One example cited was in Australia, where WeChat is now banned from government officials’ phones but not others.

Beeler has said that the range in alternatives to preserving national security affected her decision to strike down the ban. She also explained that in regards to dealing with national security, there is “scant little evidence that (the Commerce Department’s) effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns.”

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